Beauty and the Idiot
“Alright, kiddos, your next project will count as thirty percent of your lab grade, so don’t slack off.” The entire class groaned, but I thought Mr. Collins enjoyed it. I thought it gave him a sense of superiority to know he made our lives miserable.
“It’s an eight-week project, and I expect to see work from both partners, so deal with your social issues on your own time, and get to work once I announce your partner,” he said, and the class groaned again.
I hoped I would be paired with one of my friends so I wouldn’t have to worry about disappointing yet another partner. I wasn’t a total idiot, but I wasn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer either. It was difficult for me to pay attention for long periods of time, and there wasn’t much else to do in Biology 101 but pay attention. See the problem?
My mind often wandered during class, and when it came time to study or work on projects, I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes on the page. When I did, it was usually because I was fidgeting with something else or bouncing my leg—things which annoyed other people.
“Jacob Masterson and Delilah Stavros.” I heard my name and glanced around the room.
Delilah Stavros. Who the heck is Delilah… oh. It’s her. Crap. She’s smart. This is gonna go over like a ton of bricks.
All I could think about was how big an idiot I must seem to her, the smartest person in our class. I’d seen her around the school, but I only had two classes with her. She was always quiet and tended to hide in the back of the classroom. Beautiful as can be, but still hiding behind something—a book, her hair, the person in front of her—I’d have to be blind not to notice how gorgeous she was, but I didn’t think much else of it because she was brilliant, and I was an idiot. We just didn’t run in the same social circles.
She started to get out of her chair, but my parents would have killed me if they knew I let a lady come to me rather than do the gentlemanly thing and go to her. I got up a little too fast which got the whole stumble started. I tried to steady myself as I went, but I failed miserably and landed haphazardly in her lap. Her hands flew up to her face, and even in shock, she was pretty. I wondered what she looked like when she smiled. Probably incredible, but I didn’t know. I’d never seen her smile before.
I made it my mission, starting that moment, to make her smile.
“Well, I do like to make an entrance.” I sat up in my chair and waited for the sparkle, but nothing came. She only arched her eyebrow and nodded.
Wow, those cheekbones. Her eyes, darn a guy could go on an adventure and get lost in there. She’s snuggle sized. I really want to touch her hair… Oops, she’s looking at me like I’m an alien. Probably because you’re staring at her, idiot. Look away!
She buried her nose in the assignment sheet, looking over everything we would have to do over the next eight weeks. How would I survive eight weeks working with a Greek goddess without sounding like an idiot?
“So, do you want to divide the work in half, or just work on each part together?” she asked, and I was so shocked that she spoke, I didn’t take the time to listen to what she was saying.
“What? You want me to help?” I had assumed she would want to do the work to make sure we got a good grade, but that was a mistake.
She gazed back at me with wide eyes, beautiful brown, wide eyes. “Well, I’m not doing all the work for you if that’s what you’re implying.”
I searched for the words to explain my situation, oh yeah—I was an idiot. “No, of course not, but… uh, people don’t usually want me to help. I’m not that smart.”
I thought surely she’s heard the rumors that I was only good on the football field, and would need a sizeable football scholarship if I wanted to see the inside of a college. She stared at me for a long time. I was beginning to think she reconsidered her earlier statement, and she was searching for a kind way to tell me to buzz off and let her do the work.
“I don’t think that’s true. Let’s just do each part together, one at a time.” She turned her attention back to the worksheet. Her simple statement made me smile. She had no idea how happy she made me by just giving me a chance to prove myself. She didn’t say anything else for the rest of class, but it was a somewhat comfortable silence like we’d known each other forever and felt at ease in each other’s presence without a lot of conversation to fill the silence.
I couldn’t believe the time when the bell rang, and I was disappointed at the thought of separating from her so soon. I’d see her again later, but I wanted it to be sooner rather than later. There was something about her. It challenged me, and I wanted to explore that feeling more.
“Do you want to work on this more after school? I’m out of practice by four, maybe we could get something to eat and work?”
She pulled her bag onto her shoulder and fidgeted with the strap for a moment, then nodded. “Yeah, sure. My mom can make something.”
“Okay, um… should I give you my number, or…” Wow, I shocked myself with how smoothly that came up in conversation.
“Here.” She took my arm in her hand and scribbled something on my wrist with a sharpie marker. “Just text me when you’re on your way,” she said, then practically ran out of the classroom to meet her friend who was tapping her foot impatiently in the hallway.
“Wait!” I yelled, but it was too late. She was already down the hall and walking into her next class before I could make my feet move. I had no idea where she lived, but I guessed I could get that information when I texted her later.
Noah stopped beside me, glancing at my wrist. “Did you just get Delilah’s number?”
“Yeah, she’s my—” I started.
“Lab partner, I know. I’ve been here the entire hour watching you make googly eyes at her,” he teased. “You should ask her out.”
“Right, she’d never be interested.” I pulled my sleeve down and followed him down the hall to my next class.
“Why wouldn’t she be interested?” he asked, his innocence showing. Noah was too kind for words, and maybe a little foolish to think everyone had an equal playing field.
“Because she’s brilliant and I’m an idiot, so what’s to like?” I replied.
“Got that straight! Delilah Stavros? Buddy, take it from me, she’s way out of your league. She’s way out of my league, and I’m awesome.” Brian Anderson was an annoying little jerk, but he was also the quarterback, so I had to pretend I liked him.
Noah looked at me with a scowl on his face. I felt the same, but smiled anyway and laughed alongside Brian to keep the peace.
“See you at practice lover boy!” Brian shouted over his shoulder, then ducked into his class.
“Now that guy, he is an idiot,” Noah said, surprising me with his candor. “Just give her a chance. You never know what she might see, Jacob. Honestly, you’re selling her short if you think she’s like the rest of this school.” He waved and headed down the hall to his locker, leaving me with a question I’d ponder for the next eight weeks.
What does Delilah Stavros see when she looks at me?